2017 Malaysia Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: It's a shame the change in fortunes between the two front runners are not being translated into points. Otherwise, we would have had one humdinger of a final stretch to the season. Instead, we can only look for individual race excitement.
TRACK: Malaysia started the Asian expansion with Hermann Tilke's second design and probably one of his best.
EVENT: However, even after 19 races it joined the short lived India and shorter lived South Korea into extinction as Malaysia, like those other Asian races, never became an "event."
QUALIFYING: L1 in Singapore and Q1 in Malaysia has essentially finished off Vettel's championship hopes, all cars eliminated in Q1 are Ferrari powered, and after dismal practice sessions Hamilton and Mercedes grab pole.
START: Clear sailing for Hamilton without Raikkonen alongside, Bottas temporarily jumps both Red Bulls but has to settle for the split, and Vettel begins his march.
RACE: Max was smart knowing Hamilton would not take a chance (note to Vettel) because Lewis had too much to lose when Verstappen attempted the pass for the lead. Nonetheless, a more than well deserved win as Max showed superior speed and poise throughout the race. Meanwhile, behind them everyone was taking crazy chances.
VERSTAPPEN: The plucky no-longer-teen Max gives himself the greatest (day late) birthday present ever.
HAMILTON: The key takeaway for Lewis is he finished ahead of Vettel and extended his championship lead to 34 points with five races to go.
RICCIARDO: Can't be happy being outdone by his teammate. Daniel couldn't even beat Hamilton for second.
VETTEL: Salvaged what he could, but too little, too late.
BOTTAS: Valtteri signs a one-year extension and suddenly starts performing like he doesn't deserve to be with Mercedes anymore.
RAIKKONEN: Looked good for the win. Problem is, he never saw the start...
RED BULL: Race winning contenders for the rest of the year.
MERCEDES: All the excitement of Hamilton's first and second the past two races is masking the reality Mercedes is no longer the fastest car. Perhaps, not even the second fastest...
FERRARI: Vettel's bizarre crash on the cool down lap was a fitting ending to a debacle of a weekend.
PEREZ: The worst race to be suffering from a stomach virus. Amazing he was able to compete in the race. The fact Sergio took sixth is even more extraordinary.
OCON: Pinched by his teammate (again!) at the start and making sure to avoid hitting him caused Esteban to bang into Massa.
VANDOORNE: The star of McLaren this race.
HONDA: Are they finally getting their act together...?
STROLL: Solid race. Not so solid post-race.
MAGNUSSEN: Once again, "loved" by his fellow drivers...
GROSJEAN: Once again, bitching and moaning on the radio.
KVYAT: Daniil, we hardly knew you. Well, we do know you. But we wish we hardly knew you. And, we're afraid we'll see you again.
GASLY: Pierre, please dazzle us, so you can stick around.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Wasted.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 12 -- The number of points Vettel scored in the past two races when it very conceivably could have been 50. This stat may become the stat of the year.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Believe it or not, Sepang International Circuit has had just one grand prix less than Watkins Glen International. The Glen hosted F1 from 1961 to 1980. Though, Watkins Glen had different configurations over that time. Up through 1970, it did not have The Boot section, so it was 2.35 miles with eight turns (a configuration slightly different than today's Short Course) and the start/finish line and pitlane were on the straight between what is now Turns 1 and 2. When The Boot was added on, it went to 3.377 miles with 11 turns (some reconfigured) and the start/finish and pits moved to where they are now. Starting in 1975 a chicane was installed in the Esses. (The chicane was removed after F1 left, and in 1992 the Bus Stop Chicane, a.k.a., the Inner Loop, was added near the end of the back straight, lengthening the track to 3.4 miles.)
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: The mantra of Ferrari this weekend spoken by both drivers, "I have no power."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: After qualifying, Verstappen said, "I don't want to be sandwiched," to which Raikkonen immediately replied, "I don't want to be hit."
SCHEDULE: Two key questions to answer in Japan: 1) Will Mercedes find their speed and 2) will Honda do proud or embarrass themselves on their own track?
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